Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

Hotel Rochechouart,
The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

“Telling stories” is what the Orso hotel group, established by Anouk and Louis Solanet, is all about. There could be no better expression of this dazzling narrative than the Rochechouart Hotel, the couple’s latest opening, located at the bottom of the Sacré-Cœur steps. Resurrecting the spirit of the 1920s with the charleston and backed by a batch of tasty anecdotes carefully collected by its new owners, the Rochechouart has that extra touch of soul evocative of Wes Anderson’s view of style! An establishment that has lost none of its festive splendour, its retro façade stands proud in the legendary Pigalle district. Not deviating from their rule of places with personality – “vectors of emotion” – that the couple has been developing since 2020, the 106-room Rochechouart hotel charts a confident course between the art deco Roaring Twenties and the insolence of contemporary design. It is a stunning achievement by the young – but exceptionally talented – duo, Festen. For this project, the two architects working in tandem, Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay, “gleaned as much information as possible to bring the place back to life without it becoming a pastiche”. A moment in time magnified by the idea – revisited with the attention to detail so characteristic of them – of the Grand Hotel, which invites you to linger and relax. From the restaurant area featuring heart-warming bourgeois cuisine to the mischievous, hushed atmosphere of the upper floors before reaching the rooftop and its breathtaking view of Montmartre. Imaginatively deploying irreverent (but well-mannered) quality services tinged with humour – the Pick Assiettes, Chambres à manger and Qui Dîne Dort offers – in spacious yet intimate surroundings, the Rochechouart Hotel has established itself as a haven for celebration and hedonism, bringing to life the noble history of the City of Light and, with it, the legend it is reviving.

Hotel and Restaurant Rochechouart, 55 Boulevard Rochechouart – 75009 Paris. Telephone reservations on+33 (0)142 819100 and by e-mail to bonjour@hotelrochechouart. Restaurant temporarily closed. Room service provided for hotel guests. And for everyone else? The Pick Assiettes menu offer is still available for takeaway and delivery every day from 18:00.

Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

Anouk, Louis: could you introduce yourselves, please?

Anouk

I am Dutch: born and raised in the Netherlands. When I was 24, I traded my bike for the Metro, gouda for French cheese, and the canals for the Seine to move with a friend to Paris and learn French. Mission accomplished, except for the accent! (Laughs) A year later, I fell in love with Louis, a Parisian born the same day as me, and I never went back.

Louis

Parisian by birth, Corsican and Charentais at heart (and by blood too). My wife and foreign friends like to define me as the “typical Frenchman”, yet I have always tried to open myself up to the world by travelling, and I lived in several countries before I met Anouk. In a way, I prolonged the experience thanks to my only Dutch friend at the time, who introduced me to my wife. I would like to point out that Anouk is from the south of Holland, so she’s almost a northerner from Marseille!

 

How did you arrive at Orso?

Anouk

I studied Law & European Studies in Amsterdam and started my career in international law firms before switching to a new field with Solanet Hotels. With them, I learned all the basics of the hotel business and managed some of the hotels in the portfolio on behalf of investors. After a few years, I became project manager for the renovation of the hotels we manage, becoming the co-founder of Orso.

Louis

After I finished my studies and started my career in the world of finance, I quickly turned to the much more real and exciting world of hotels in my small family business. During the early years, I learned by working with more standard economy hotels and, little by little, we wanted to cultivate our own offering in parallel, but without denying our past either. Each hotel has to find its own clientele, and there is something for everyone. It is still an extremely varied business, especially in France – a heterogeneous and international market.

Introduce us to this collection of hotels that “advocates a return to the true values of the hotel business.”

Anouk

We had noticed that the hotel industry was becoming more and more standardised, perhaps dehumanised, and no longer had very much feeling behind it. With Orso, We are trying to arrange everything so that the customer feels like a guest in a family or friend’s home. This is often dictated by the place itself, its history and the architect we choose: we establish a genuine decorative identity in each of our establishments. Then, Orso asserts its values: authenticity and simplicity, a convivial family feel, a local feeling, with products and recommendations that are often simple but are fair and good. We try to be considerate at every level and also efficient in the essentials of our business: welcome, cleanliness, quality. For each hotel, we try to think about the people who will be the most likely to reveal its potential. The person that we choose to work with. Many of the architects chosen by Orso have had little or no experience with hotels. We have chosen them for their ideas and their style rather than their experience. It’s up to us to make the hotels operationally viable over time, and not just look pretty on the opening day. We have to enjoy working together, even if the projects are sometimes fraught with difficulties. The ones we have now and those in progress seem to indicate we are on the right track. We can’t wait for our clients to see them, stay in them, experience them.

Louis

I’ve nothing to add; she’s said it all.

Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

How did it come into being?

Anouk

We wanted to establish a synergy, a common thread, between the independent hotels we were taking over and for which there was no existing brand to add value.

Louis

The name Orso takes its origins from the hero of a novel I read at school. Against the backdrop of Corsica (where my family has its roots), Prosper Merimée tells the story of a character who is torn between tradition and the modern world. This is the kind of story we want to tell in our hotels with simple things, almost forgotten in our past, but which make sense today, adapted to the modern world. Attention to detail, fragrance, music, some very essential elements of sanctuary.

How does your partnership work?

Louis

on an everyday basis, sometimes like Inspector Clouseau versus Cato in the Pink Panther! More seriously, I think I express a lot of ideas, and sometimes I set off down some crazy paths. Anouk has inherited a certain pragmatism. She has a very “straight to the point” Dutch vision of life and knows how to select the right idea when it comes along! It’s the same on leboncoin, I send her 50 ads a day, and she follows up on one from me every month. (Laughs)

Here we are at the Hotel Rochechouart. Tell us about the transformation of this place, from its acquisition to its opening.

Louis

It’s a collective effort above all, which cannot be summed up by just the two of us. We fell in love with the place, from the rooftop terrace to the brasserie and the rooms on the eighth floor, which reminded me of my student days. Working on this complicated project and making it happen required a lot of support. Which is what happened in the end, with friends as well as talented architects, courageous and thorough staff and partners we chose to work with us. Everyone remained focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and on the irrepressible desire to bring this place we thought of as legendary back to life. I continue to search every day for anecdotes or images from the past. Recently it was a New Year’s menu promising a grand ball with cotillions in the company of Vincent Morgagni’s gypsy orchestra!

Like all Orso hotels, this establishment has been designed by a creative mind. In this case, the architect and decorator duo Festen. Why them?

Anouk

We had been following the work of Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay for some time, and with great admiration. When we showed them the place, they felt the same magic that had won us over and then plunged into the archives, researching the history of the hotel, the personalities who used to dine or party there, the atmosphere at the time. They spent time gleaning as much information as possible to bring the place back to life without falling into pastiche. Very quickly, their mood boards and 3D – so accurate! – followed. Collaboration was a given. They stepped aside to let the story tell itself, without imposing a style.

Louis

A knowledgeable journalist summed up their work in re-creating this place very well when he said, “they knew how to stop”. This gives the place a timeless and almost anachronistic character.

How did you steer them towards what you wanted?

Anouk & Louis

Revisiting the idea of the grand hotel. Reviving it, with a modern twist. Bringing the legend to life. To be the most Parisian of Parisian hotels, the most Pigalle of Pigalle versions of the Paris-Plaisirs revue! It was also important to anchor Orso’s DNA in the restaurant’s menu, which is simple but bourgeois, the attentive welcome, the small but much-appreciated little gestures…

Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

With Orso, We are trying to arrange everything so that the customer feels like a guest in a family or friend's home.

Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

Apart from the decoration, how do you keep the soul of this place alive on a day-to-day basis? In its golden age, it was the place where the Parisian elite of the Roaring Twenties gathered.

Louis

We opened on 2 October 2020, when the bars were closing. Then came the first curfew and the instant implementation of our “Qui dine dort” offer: rooms at 60 euros for anyone staying for dinner. The atmosphere was festive, the restaurant and hotel full, boosted by a legal prohibition, the atmosphere was electric. We have remained open ever since and have refined our room service by moving tablecloths and silverware, cloches and champagne upstairs.

Carine

The idea of “refuge” must remain ever-present, the feeling of a secret rendezvous too, intimate but always festive, suspended in time. We work on this every day.

The Rochechouart Hotel also has a sublime brasserie. The cuisine, another essential element of the Orso entity?

Louis

Yes, we have explored several avenues, including Italian! But, happily, the place, the menus that we found and our Orso DNA took over. We wanted something fundamentally simple, comforting, good and generous. We went looking for old recipes, sometimes our family’s (the crêpe gateau), classics, bourgeois home cooking. We’re not a brasserie, but closer to the idea of Louis de Funès’ “Grand Restaurant” with our white tablecloths and silver napkin rings – but without the host from the film!

How do you define the identity of the food in your restaurants? What about here in the Rochechouart?

Louis

The Rochechouart is still an oddity. It is indeed the only Orso hotel to offer a real restaurant. We have opted for a comforting and retro cuisine. Bourgeois food and the spirit of the brasserie are very much in keeping with Pigalle. We wanted to pay tribute to some of the great French cuisine classics, among other recipes from old books, sometimes forgotten. In the other establishments, we have less room and space for preparation. So we simplify the offer as much as possible with simple things (again), plainly served. We also try to promote our local restaurants, which are sometimes not very attractive at first glance, as great, kitsch, generous, institutional or hidden…

What should we remember about the Hotel Rochechouart in five words?

 

Anouk & Louis

Art Déco. Grand Hotel. Timeless. Festive. Hushed.

Where will we see you in the coming months?

Anouk & Louis

By the end of 2021, depending on how the work progresses, we will have seven Orso hotels in Paris. The Hotel Ami by the delightful Gesa Hansen is due to open in April, the Wallace by our friends Hauvette & Madani later this year, and we are looking for a name for the seventh dwarf in the Orso family. It’s an establishment located in the 5th arrondissement, decorated by Eloïse Bosredon. We can’t wait to unveil the whole tribe. In the meantime, we’re still looking for addresses in France and abroad to continue to develop the famous Orso touch. The letters ‘ETC’ in our logo are a reminder that anything is possible. We are open to anything.

Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”
Hotel Rochechouart, <br>The Orso version of the “Grand Hotel”

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